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SALT WATER ROSES

I stood beside the beautiful, heavily bloomed wild rose bush in the front garden last summer. The calm water of the harbor reflected everything that it contacted but it could not reflect the nostalgic joy and staggering memories that the sight and smell the ‘Salt Water Roses’ gave me. Yes, the lovely old bushes finally bloomed with many dark pink blossoms and a scent that pierced the heart, my heart, and I felt that I had come to the place where I needed to be, filled with the sights and sounds, the smells and memories that I had missed for so many years. The quest was worth every venture, every fork in the road, every tear, every disappointment and with it all, also worth the joys and achievements that had filled my life away from Newfoundland for so long a time. Like the lilac tree before it the rose bush lifted my spirits to wonderful heights.

Every woman throughout her life, hopefully, has roses from time to time. The red roses of graduation and promotions, of love and devotion, the yellow roses of promises and ‘just because’, the coral roses that are special and so exquisite. My share of roses has always been so appreciated and so photographed, but nothing beats the ‘wild rose of the seaside’ that I yearned for over the years, longing for the scent that would take me back to childhood days in so many places around Newfoundland. Now here I was, standing beside a the rose bushes by the sea, blooming on their own I am sure, because my green thumb is nonexistent, and besides that, they bloomed for years when the old house stood here empty, sharing their scent with the blueberries and black currants, and the occasional family member who happened to drop by. This year they shared with me, and it fulfilled and met every longing moment as if they knew this year they had someone to admire and appreciate them in such a special way. The sheer curtains would blow in the breeze, bringing the sweet aroma in the sunny bedroom, what a way to start the day!

During the summer I had occasion to be in Harbor Grace and while my husband tended to some business I happened to see an enormous rose tree, the wild sea roses making its’ branches bend to meet the ground. I had the greatest urge to get out of the car and touch the blooms but on second thought it would seem strange for some lady to look out her window and see a stranger sniffing and playing with a rose bush. So I sat and admired it from afar. But lo and behold when I got home that day I discovered my rose had bloomed, my first and very own rose.

For years I would talk of those flowers, the memory of them being in my life in different little outports around Newfoundland, the summer Dad took us to Sagona Island where my aunt had a garden full of roses and gooseberry bushes, the days in Twillingate when my sister and I would walk on the beach squishing the ink out of the squid and getting filthy, then buying a soda pop for five cents, and walking home passing beautiful roses by the sea. In Port Saunders and Burgeo where it seemed the special little flowers graced everyone s’ garden along with the potatoes and all sorts of hardy root vegetables, then as a student in St. John’s I would occasionally find a special sea rose bush on a walk from the Grace Hospital to Lems Lunch with a friend, to buy a licorice pipe for two cents. Did my friend ever know how much I loved those roses? I doubt it, I probably never mentioned it, as our heads were full of too many other things in those days.

While living in Nova Scotia during an especially sad time in my life my husband and I took a walk around a provincial park near Chester, called ‘Graves Island Provincial Park’ and it was located right on the sea. From this island you could see some of the many islands of Mahone Bay, especially a group called the ‘Seven Sisters’, as they were all lined up in a row. Campers were enjoying their weekend but my heart was heavy.

Then I smelled the roses special scent, and ran ahead of my husband saying "That’s the Roses," . I found them and picked a few, but when I looked back he was standing holding a little bouquet as well, his hand offering them to me. He had found a rose bush before I did and thoughtfully made a bouquet. It was a bouquet that helped heal my heart, and I saved the petals from those roses until they were in a dish of pot pourri.

A very thoughtful friend went to Maine on vacation and brought me back a candle called ‘Sea Rose’ and it had the identical scent to the Salt Water Roses. I carried the candle around with me from the car, to the locker, to the desk, and finally as it started to fade I lit it, and enjoyed it fully. A very nice thing for her to do. Someone understood my longing to be beside the sea. Now, back in Newfoundland I have my very own Sea Roses. They were so beautiful last summer but now the bloom is over, the bushes lie in wait for another season, another time to bloom as the cycle continues.

Yes, I am back home, back with my much longed for land, complete with all its’ beauty and its’ flaws, but so very, very special. Back to where I picked my first little sea rose, thorns and all and put it in the baby carriage with my baby brother the day he first smiled, in a garden in Twillingate forty five years ago.

How could anything so special ever be forgotten? The flower itself is unique, its’ petals not always uniform, but neither are we perfect and always in special order.

The thing that makes it unique is the very thing that makes it special, as it is with people. It is the memory of times past, the new baby, the new boat, the passing grade, the teenage crush, the illness finally passing, the buzz of the little plane readying to land on the harbor, and the sun filled day, the calm water and the scent that is like an expensive, wonderful perfume. Every little memory is accompanied by a special little flower that costs nothing but is so precious, far more precious than gold.

The Salt Water Roses that soothe my soul will be soon ready to appear again.

I’ll be waiting!


Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe

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